We cannot take anything out of this world

We cannot take anything out of this world

We cannot take anything out of this world 150 150 Tania Runyan

One of the few ways I can speak to you
is sliding nylon hairs over wound aluminum,

praying low arpeggios under the choir’s hymn,
or reeling in the kitchen as the soup overflows.

Today I lamented by the window as autumn’s
gray mushrooms beaded the foot of the maple tree.

Triple-stopped strings, slightly flattened,
my only real cry. You seemed to build heaven

for the air-spun singer who can bundle all the cords
of her body in a breath. But I need the language

of arm and bow, callus and vibrato, clouds
of rosin rising. Oh, let me keep it, Lord,

even when I rise from the grave,
this quavering voice, this scuffed hourglass of wood.


Tania Runyan

Tania Runyan is the author of the poetry collections Second Sky, A Thousand Vessels, Simple Weight, and Delicious Air, which was awarded Book of the Year by the Conference on Christianity and Literature in 2007. Her book How to Read a Poem, an instructional guide based on Billy Collins’s “Introduction to Poetry,” was released in 2014. More information about this book, including teaching tools and a $1000 scholarship, can be found at howtoreadapoem.com. Tania's poems have appeared in many publications, including Poetry, Image, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Christian Century, Atlanta Review, Indiana Review, Willow Springs, Nimrod, and the anthology In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare. Tania was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship in 2011 and writes for Image Journal's blog, Good Letters. When not writing, Tania tutors high school students, plays fiddle and mandolin, and gets lost in her Midwestern garden.

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  • Tania, all I can say is thank you. This poem completely took my breath away and makes me want to go pick up my own hourglass of wood out of its case and play for a while. I have always prayed that someday, in the new heaven and new earth, the Lord will allow me to continue praising him with my violin.

    • Amy, thank you so much for your kind words! There is nothing like a violin to really sing how we feel.

  • Lesley-Anne Evans June 13, 2015 at 12:05 am

    Awestruck by the echo of your thoughts in me… thank you. Wonderful to be here with you, Lesley-Anne